If you use cannabis for medicinal or other reasons, there’s a pretty good chance that you are purchasing products from third-party vendors — and that the items you buy come in some sort of container. While most of us are focused on what’s inside the package, how cannabis is stored can play a significant role in its quality and in the customer experience. As it turns out, there are a lot of factors to consider when packaging cannabis products, ranging from loose flower to pre-rolls, to beverages, to edibles.
Why is packaging important? If you think about it, cannabis is an agricultural product and, as a natural item, it is susceptible to external conditions including cold temperature, moisture, heat, and light. Any one of these factors can negatively affect the quality of cannabis, or even completely ruin it. That’s why it is critical for merchants who sell cannabis to make sure that the items they sell are carefully stored to prevent spoilage and negative user experiences.
As a starting point, let’s look at light. While many cannabis retail stores show items in glass, they are almost never directly exposed to sunlight. A little bit of light from LEDs and other sources is usually not a problem, but blasts of direct sun can not only dry product, but also cause THC, terpenes, and other compounds to leech out of the leaves. The last thing you want is for people to purchase cannabis products only to discover that they have lost their effectiveness because they were improperly stored. As a result, most products sold in cannabis stores come in opaque containers, and even glass vessels could be heavily tinted to prevent damage. So why do so many people store cannabis products in clear glass jars and bottles? The simple reason is that it looks really good — it has the classic “apothecary” feel, and it’s also easy to tell how much product is left.
Another major source of damage comes from moisture. It takes surprisingly little water to cause a batch of cannabis to get moldy very quickly — and there’s nothing less pleasant than opening a container to discover that one’s supply is unusable because it is spoiled. Keeping cannabis products in airtight containers is extremely important because of the potential for water damage. On an industrial scale, licensed producers keep their picked cannabis in sealed canisters, then eventually this goes into progressively smaller containers that keep moisture out. By the time these products get to the store and are ready for sale, they are generally in small containers that contain only a few grams of cannabis, or a few pre-rolled joints.
Not only does the storage type need to protect the cannabis, but it also needs to be convenient for retailers and customers. That’s why there’s been a movement away from clear Ziploc bags to more sophisticated packaging that is durable enough to withstand some jostling of the contents. This is actually where modern packaging pouches are playing a critical role in meeting the needs of everyone in the cannabis supply chain.
Of course, there are plenty of other options for storage. Most Canadian retailers sell cannabis in plastic containers that are approved by the government and are childproof to maximize safety. Tin containers are also sold, although they tend to be less common than they were even a few years ago. They are incredibly convenient and durable, but the problem comes when they are open because it is difficult to fully seal them to protect the contents from heat and moisture. Zipper pouches are also very common, although most of them are sold separately from cannabis. These are unbelievably convenient and are popular among regular cannabis users. One of the biggest problems with zipper packages, however, is that they don’t fully seal and it is easy to detect the smell of cannabis if someone happens to be carrying a zipper pouch. This might be OK at a rock concert, but there are definitely circumstances where you would not want to draw attention to the fact you are carrying cannabis around.